Alpine say that they're satisfied with the progress being made by their Formula 2 driver line-up in 2021.
Rookie Oscar Piastri tops the standings at the midway point of the season ahead of Guanyu Zhou, who is in his third year in the category. Christian Lundgaard, who this weekend makes his IndyCar debut with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, has endured a more challenging campaign, sitting 12th overall.
In a review of the season so far, Alpine's Racing Director, Davide Brivio, explained how 2021 is going from the perspective of their Academy.
"On the whole, we’re quite happy with the season so far, even if sometimes the results do not reflect the potential," he said.
"Firstly, in Formula 2, we are in a good situation, where we have three really great talents. Oscar and Zhou are 1-2 in the Drivers’ Championship while Christian has been very unfortunate on a number of occasions this season and hasn’t quite had the opportunity to truly show his promise.
"The three drivers are talents that I’m sure other young driver programmes would like to have; such is the high level of Formula 2 this year.
"Oscar has been impressive as a rookie after winning Formula 3 last season and we’re excited to see how he can continue to progress. Zhou has a lot of experience in the category and will be in the mix by the end of the year."
Academy Director Mia Sharizman has said that Zhou and Piastri are both hitting their targets so far this season.
"A title challenge was always the primary objective going into Zhou’s third year and he has clearly shown that in the first half of the season," Sharizman said.
"After securing his first win last year in Sochi, Zhou has shown the confidence to fight for more wins. He has had the most wins with three this year, including two Feature Race victories in Bahrain and Silverstone.
"He has improved his street circuit performances tremendously, with a podium in each event, which shows a step-up in his development. His excellent performance in Austria FP1 validates the hard work that he puts in whilst in the Academy.
"Oscar’s performances in the first half of the season have been remarkable. The level of composure that we see in him when he has faced difficult situations shows he has what it takes to fight for the title all the way until the end of the season.
"Rene Rosin and everyone at PREMA have been magnificent in their working relationship with Oscar. Both seem to understand what the other needs. Oscar is the driver that has the most podiums and the only driver thus far that has been on the podium at every round."
While things are going well for Piastri and Zhou, Sharizman alluded to Lundgaard's struggles, but that Alpine intend on helping him get back to his best.
"For Christian, it has been a difficult first half of the season," Sharizman continued.
"He can’t seem to replicate any of his performances from pre-season testing in a race weekend. He has had only four points-scoring finishes, but in saying this, two of them were podiums.
"Nevertheless, we know his level of talent and will stand beside him to get back to winning ways. He has everything to play for going into the final half of the year."
Despite no clear route upwards for the Formula 2 drivers, given that Alpine's seats in F1 are taken and they have no customer teams, Sharizman said the goal is still clear for their juniors.
"They shouldn’t lose sight of their continued development as drivers and to demonstrate to the team and Academy their capabilities," he said.
"For the remainder of the season consistency is everything. I believe showing mental toughness and racing intelligence is what will get them to be fighting for the title by the last round. As an Academy, this will be the area that we will be focusing on with the drivers."